Disclaimer: The following article mentions the topic of suicide or other sensitive subjects, which may trigger negative thoughts and feelings for those currently suffering or still recovering from a mental or mood disorder. Reader discretion is advised.
Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, I experienced postpartum depression with my first child. There was a moment when I was all alone in the hospital and experienced a panic attack. I was sobbing and hyperventilating, feeling like my life was out of control. It was very confusing and scary. When my nurse came in, she and I both agreed it was hormones.
Looking back, I realized I should have gotten help. I hid when friends and family came over to see the baby. My husband would make excuses for me, saying that I was sleeping, showering, or too tired. While true, the real reason was the anxiety I felt from being with people.
I experienced something similar with the birth of my second child, but it worsened after the birth of my third child. One day, my parents had taken my older kids and my husband and I were resting with the baby. I was having a hard time sleeping, and I awoke to a quiet house. My husband and baby were peacefully sleeping. I felt alone, empty, and hollow. And then, out of nowhere, the thought crossed my mind, “They would be better off without me.” To my terror, my brain answered, “Yes. Yes they would.” As I sobbed, I wrestled with my brain by telling myself that this was not a good idea. I begged my brain to stop suggesting suicide.
The year prior to my baby being born, I had dealt with some suicides in my life. I watched children cry as their mother was buried. I watched little kids attend their parents’ funerals, knowing they would now be raised by other family members. Until now, I hadn’t understood how anyone could get to the point of thinking the world would be a better place without them.
I was embarrassed, but I knew I had to talk to someone. I gently woke my husband and poured out all my emotions and fears to him. He quietly listened, wrapped me in his arms, and said, “Let’s get you some help.” I knew I had done the right thing. The next day, my husband made sure I got medical help, including a doctor’s visit and medication. Although it took time, the medication eventually helped. I started to feel happiness again. I could be alone. I could handle life. I loved my baby. At times I felt slightly numb to other feelings, but I knew this was a temporary tradeoff. I eventually realized being alone was my trigger. When I was alone, the feelings would overwhelm me and I would spiral quickly.
Within a year, I had weaned myself off the medication and was still feeling stable and happy. Later, after my fourth baby was born, I asked for a prescription before I even left the hospital. As a result, I didn’t have the debilitating anxiety and depression I previously experienced. Along with medication, the perspective of understanding the postpartum depression would end also helped.
I still sometimes struggle with some anxiety and depression, but I am learning how to handle it. Diet, exercise, and adequate sleep keep me on track. I say no to things that I know will put me over the edge. I tell my loved ones when I start to feel out of control.
At the time of my postpartum depression, I felt so lost, scared, and ashamed of the way I felt. I’ve found that when talking to new moms, being candid about my experience has helped them open up and realize they are not alone. To those going through postpartum depression right now, there is hope. Please reach out to family, friends, and if needed, a therapist and medical professionals. You will find many people who have love, compassion, and empathy for you.